Ferrari keen to add first female Academy member 'very soon'

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Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has revealed a push is underway to add a first female member to their Driver Academy "very soon".

While the likes of Red Bull have often got more attention for their youth programs, the Italian team has actually helped nourish plenty of Formula 1  stars over the past 20 years, such as Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, Jules Bianchi, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc.

Currently, Mick Schumacher is the best-known member along with F3 champion Robert Schwartzman and F2 drivers Callum Ilott and Guiliano Alesi, and at a time when female drivers are getting a bigger spotlight, Ferrari is keen to join the search.

“We are increasing the number of drivers of the Ferrari Driver Academy next year,” Binotto told reporters at Maranello last week.

“A few other drivers will join. I’m not in the position to tell you how many and who, but it’s something on which we are working very hard.

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"The Academy also looks for women in the future — women should be part of the Ferrari Driver Academy. That’s something on which we are working right now to make sure that it may happen very soon.”

A controversial but still welcome step to bringing attention to female racers was the creation of the W Series in 2019 which was won by Briton Jamie Chadwick.

She has since gone on to join Williams as a development driver but speaking about the push to end the nearly 20-year wait for a woman to compete in F1, Chadwick insists she wants no special privilege.

“I want to be there on merit,” she told AFP. “I don’t care if someone pays for me to be in Formula 1 tomorrow, I won’t do it as I am not there on merit yet.

“I know if I jumped into an F1 seat tomorrow I would not do women in motorsport justice and I feel morally loyal to that.

“If I have the opportunity, which I believe I do after this year, to race at all levels and I am successful in all of them then I do deserve a seat," the 21-year-old added.

“If not then I do not deserve a seat but so long as I have had the opportunity I cannot say I did not have the best shot at it.”

In 2020, Chadwick will look to retain her W Series title and also compete in Asian F3 during the winter season.